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Sedan Delivery Steering Update

12/9/2016
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In this article I’ll introduce you to a vehicle that I have a very long history with. It’s a ’46 Ford Sedan Delivery that my dad built when I was a kid. We sold it in 1985 to pursue other projects and in 1986 my dad passed away. It resurfaced again in 1999 and I had kept tabs on it from then until in 2013 when I was given the opportunity to buy it back and bring it home from West Virginia. That’s a story for another time. I told you all that just to tell you this...

Handsome little devil, wasn’t I?

The Delivery holds a special place in my world as a sentimental preservation effort. It’s got a lot of miles on a very tried & true build style and combination of parts. It helps to remember through this series of articles that this street rod was built before many of the currently available, bolt-on solutions for rods had been designed and marketed. That’s the answer to many of the questions of, “why” regarding the selection of parts to upgrade and those left alone. Much like a Doctor’s oath, first, do no harm.

The Platform

The combination that has served “Elmer” (as the ’46 has come to be known) well for the last 180,000 odd miles is as follows:

  • Stock ’46 Ford Frame
  • 1965 Corvair IFS modified for ’67 Chevelle Ball Joints
  • ’67 Chevelle Spindles & Drums
  • '67 Chevelle Steering
  • ’66 Nova 8.2” 10 Bolt Rear & Leaf springs
  • 350 SBC / 350 TH

In preparation for a repeat of the California family vacation I went on in the delivery when I was a kid, I decided that a front end rebuild was in order. Fortunately, I didn’t need to look very far for high quality rebuild parts. Admittedly, I don’t carry any parts for Corvair at Speedway. But the A-Body steering stuff? We’ve got that in spades.

Everything you need, in a yellow bag

Aside from the nylon control arm bushings I got from Clark’s Corvair Parts, everything came from our Parts counter. For those who aren’t familiar with the Corvair IFS design, it’s very similar to that of the Mustang II in size and function. The major differences being in the adjustment and how the cross-member engages the frame in a custom application.

The Corvair IFS in this case is bolted directly to the bottom of the stock Ford frame. It has a shorter coil spring than a factory application would require. This change makes the use of a Mustang II shock preferable due to its shorter installed height and operation range. I discovered this quite some time ago while trying to source a replacement Corvair shock. Speedway sells Mustang II shocks as well. Perfect!

Shiny and clean with all new consumables installed.
Things I Learned

So, when you’re working with a car built during what I call “the junkyard” era of street rodding, you’ll learn something every time you turn a wrench. This project was no exception. What I learned was something I already suspected. A Chevelle is wider than a ’46 Ford. The center link isn’t an item you can narrow. Therefore the tie-rods were all shortened a bit to accommodate for the narrower track-width of the recipient vehicle.

Here’s where the learning happened, I don’t have a giant fine thread die to clean & chase the threads on a chop-sawed tie-rod end. But what I did have was an extra tie-rod connecter sleeve. Which already has a slit up the side and acts much like a thread chaser. I now keep a section of one in my toolbox drawer. You know that drawer everybody has with the special tools and creations you’ve come up with? Spin that baby onto the threaded portion to be cut, make your cut to the ouside of the sleeve, file a chamfer and spin the sleeve back of. Presto, a clean & dressed cut.

Moral of the story, if you’re going to do this on your calico rod, be sure to match up the old parts to the new parts and see if you can find the wizardry that the original builder used. It’s there somewhere.

The reassembly and alignment was pretty straightforward and the trip was a success. Until next time.

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